OpenTV chief: India embraces new tech faster

MUMBAI: Indias readiness to embrace new technologies, opposed to Chinas cautious approach, makes the former a more attractive market for suppliers of broadcast and related technologies, says Open TV chairman and CEO Jim Chiddix.

The difference between India and China is active acceptance of new programmes and technology by Indians. China is more cautious, Chiddix told today, adding this openness to new global developments gives India an advantage over its neighbour.

According to Chiddix, in quite a few areas of the broadcast industry, India is ahead of other countries and shows a healthy growth rate, which has helped in creating the right buzz in international markets.

We expect the (Indian) market to grow faster over the next few years, driven by competition and the need of a service provider to keep ahead of others as a differentiator in services being offered to consumers, Chiddix said.

The Nasdaq-listed OpenTV Corp is a leading provider of enabling technologies for advanced digital television services. It has signed a multi-year license agreement with Essel Group (parent entity for Zee Telefilms and DTH licence
holder ASC Enterprise) to deploy OpenTVs software and services in Indias first private sector DTH venture, Dish TV.

The agreement, which would also bring within its ambit Zee Telefilms cable arm Siti Cable, represents OpenTVs initial entry into the Indian pay television market that is recognized as one of the fastest growing in the Asia Pacific region.

Pointing out that in sheer numbers only the Indian market is overwhelming, Chiddix said, Its opening up in terms of content and delivery platforms. It is a market where every technology vendor would want to be present.

India is also not far behind global broadcasting trends where a gradual migration to digital television from analog format is being seen. If a mature market like the US still has half way to go before 100 per cent cable TV digitalisation is achieved, Indias performance in this regard is not bad, though only a small step has been taken here.

Digital TV is inevitable. Its not only cheaper than analog, but can solve up to a large extent the bandwidth logjam being faced by industry players everywhere, said Chiddix, an award-winning cable industry veteran widely credited with setting the standard for the American cable industry's
broadband network architecture.

However, Chiddix is of the opinion that though digital TV is an
inevitability, the rate of adoption in country like India would depend heavily on political factors and policymakers willingness --- or lack of it --- to push for digitalization.

Theres a political element to it all. In the US, theres an attempt to provide government subsidies on digital boxes, he explained.

In India, however, industry players are still trying to extract some tax benefits on set-top boxes for digital services like DTH.

According to Chiddix, newer technology is also resulting in a slow shift of power into service providers hands from that of content creators.

Facilities like PVRs (personal video recorders) and other delivery mechanisms are enabling platform managers and service providers to come up with incremental revenue (streams), he added.

For example, though a global concern on advertising zapping by viewers is growing, a tech-savvy service provider can now regulate the speed of that zapping when resorted to by a subscriber on his PVR.

Chiddix feels that with newer delivery platforms springing up, riding the technology bandwagon, TV viewing is fast moving from a passive format to an interactive one where viewers are likely to do many things at the same time.

Dish TV is soon going to offer a service where during a cricket match, for instance, subscribers of the DTH service can have access to players fact files and replays of a particular shot on the TV screen, while simultaneously watching live action.

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